A trip into the Bergisches Land: Schlossburg an der Wupper and Solingen
Heading half an hour east from Düsseldorf, you will find yourself in the Bergisches Land, a low mountain range with stunning landscapes shaped by dense woods and pine forests, meadows, creeks and a number of (artificial) lakes. Wuppertal is seen as the region’s capital but personally I find the smaller towns and villages more visit-worthy, with their slate-fronted, half-timbered and often turreted buildings, which line the quaint streets. Naturally, such diverse and magical landscape would be incomplete without a number of ancient churches, mills and of course, picturesque castles. Schlossburg an der Wupper is the most impressive of these and can be said to be at the heart of the Bergisches Land. It is one of the largest restored castles in West Germany, dating back to 1000AD and it is not just the castle that makes for an interesting and unforgettable visit.
On arrival in Schloss-Burg (about a 15min bus ride from Solingen Mitte), we were immediately struck by the imposing medieval castle towering up above us. Although there was the option of continuing on the bus up the hill, we opted for the more adventurous route, that being the Seilbahn, or cable car. However, this was no ordinary cable car. Forget the comfortable air conditioned or heated capsules and think of the less-secure-ski- lift type. It was certainly an exciting trip up the hill, although I’m not sure how safe we were, secured in our seats by only a low safety bar and on a number of occasions I thought I was going to have to wave my beloved shoes goodbye.
Fear not dear friends, for we made it safely up the hill, passing a friendly goat along the way and thankfully, my shoes made it safely off the Seilbahn too!
Once at the top, I was shocked how many other buildings there were apart from the castle – restaurants overlooking the Wupper valley, cafes, shops and even a Sparkasse bank!
We had a little wander around and then decided to venture inside the castle, paying a small 4 euro entrance fee. I can say that the small fee was definitely worth it and the inside of the castle was quite wonderful.
The Bergisches Museum within the castle was impressively interesting and offered a mix of old and new. The first rooms we entered had been restored in traditional fashion, with wooden panelled walls and floors, mighty oak doors and beautiful paintings on the walls. I’m not usually one to appreciate such paintings but these were particularly striking and awe-inspiring.
Passing through these rooms, we entered the main museum which had displays of ancient weapons, armour and also information about the woodland animals found in the area. Exiting the museum area, one could continue around the castle walls, along the wooden walkway and also climb the tower for a view over the surrounding area.
We spent a good two hours enjoying what the Schloss had to offer and on the way back to Düsseldorf, we stopped for a quick photo in the ‘world famous’ (ha ha) “Welcome to Solingen” sign.
As you can imagine we got a few strange looks…